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Full text of "NightRider"

hay. He had lain there, hour after hour, with a handker-
chief over his face to keep off the dust and with the coarse
hay turning into a bed .of knives and the sweat covering his
body with the effort of stillness, and his throat dry and rasp-
ing with thirst. Twice during the day, he had been sure, the
soldiers had come. He had heard the voices below, numerous
and portentous and excited, but muffled by the hay.

Late at night he decided to come down, to take his chance.
He guessed that he couldn't hold out another day. And by
this time they must have figured that he had managed to get
out with the crowd. He would have to gamble that there
wouldn't be a guard on the stables, except the old negro
watchman. Not moving, he lay in the hay and thought of
the watchman, of seeing his eyes open with surprise to show
the whites and his lips spread for a cry. It became, on the
instant, sharp as reality for him, the brown face, the lips
opening to show the old, broken, yellow teeth; and his muscles
contracted as for a spring, or a blow, his fingers crooked—
they knew, they were doing their thinking, they had their
plans—and his heart gave a sudden, cold, almost exultant
knock at the ribs,

No, he thought. And no. Not that. With an effort he
straightened his fingers. He felt giddy and hollow, like a
man recoiling from the unexpected, irrevocable deed, already
performed in an instant outside of will. Then he said, no, I
won't. He did not know whether he had said the words out
loud.

It's because I haven't eaten all day, he thought; that's
why I'm this way.

Then he began, cautiously, to part the weight of hay above
him.

He remembered that the old negro man's name was Jim.
He said to himself, his name's Jim.

He crept to the head of the ladder above the hall. Below
him, he could make out the faint light. After a while it
moved. The watchman was going down to the other end of
the stable. Now there was only the fainter light that came